NMSU Engineering Gains Visibility in South India


With our focus on increasing master’s-level students and establishing collaborations with key engineering colleges in South India, I have completed my week-long trip to Vijayawada, the new Capital City of Andhra Pradesh. Thanks to Dr. Kumar, our liaison and coordinator for Indian universities, NMSU engineering gained quite a bit of newspaper and TV coverage. Our signing of Memoranda of Understanding with eight colleges was televised to an audience of approximately 18 million people. All major Telugu (local language) newspapers and one national English (Hindu) newspaper covered the unique strengths and opportunities available at NMSU. In a 14-minute television interview, I was able to address Indian students and their parents about the degree and research programs available at NMSU and about their uniqueness and relevance to Indian students. I was accompanied by Dean Rolando Flores, College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, and by Luis Cifuentes, vice president of research and graduate school dean, who focused on agricultural and other research collaboration opportunities. 

Where were your songs, my bird, when you spent your nights in the nest?


File Photo: Goddard Hall peeks through the autumn trees. 

There was a beautiful poem belonging to Mediaeval India, recited by Tagore, which not only describes function of poetry but also allows us to draw out an analogy with what a scientific mind creates.  The poem contains question and answer: 

Where were your songs, my bird, when you spent

          your nights in the nest?

Was not all your pleasure stored therein?

What makes you lose your heart to the sky, the

           sky that is limitless?

The bird answers:

I have my pleasure while I rested within bounds.

          When I soared into the limitless, I found my songs! 

Using this poem, Tagore describes the function of poetry as a detachment of an individual idea from its confinement of everyday facts and to give its soaring wings the freedom of the universal.  Isn’t this the purpose of creative interdisciplinary research as well? – detaching from the confines of disciplinary boundaries and allowing our imagination to soar into the limitless reality?


Virtues of Learning Community 


File Photo: Jessica Houston, New Mexico State University’s associate professor of Chemical and Materials Engineering. (NMSU photo by Andres Leighton)

I have enjoyed reading about the virtues of a learning community presented by Parker Palmer in his The Heart of Higher Education:

  • We invite diversity into our community not because it is politically correct but because diverse viewpoints are demanded by the manifold mysteries of great things.
  • We embrace ambiguity not because we are confused or indecisive but because we understand the inadequacy of our concepts to embrace the vastness of great things.
  • We welcome creative conflict not because we are angry or hostile but because conflict is required to correct our biases and prejudices about the nature of great things.
  • We practice honesty not only because we owe it to one another but because to lie about what we have seen would be to betray the truth of great things.
  • We experience humility not because we have fought and lost but because humility is the only lens through which great things can be seen – and once we have seen them, humility is the only posture possible.
  • We become free men and women through education not because we have privileged information but because tyranny in any form can be overcome only by invoking the grace of great things.

The great things Palmer was referring to in these virtues are the subjects around which truth-seekers gather to know, to teach, and to learn.


Engineering alum helps build student leadership

File Photo: Peer tutoring in the Learning Communities at New Mexico State University’s College of Engineering.


Engineering today is a team-based, multidisciplinary endeavor that requires skills beyond technical abilities, but also the ability to work with diverse groups of people, communicate effectively and develop entrepreneurial skills.

I am pleased to announce that a donation from engineering alum Ron Seidel, will help students develop those essential “soft skills” with the launch of the Ron Seidel Engineering Leadership Institute this coming spring.

A group of 20 students will be selected to be the first cohort in the two-year, self-paced program that includes professional training in leadership, communication, wellbeing and time management, and community engagement. They will work with mentors and attend professional development, leadership and communication seminars and workshops. They will apply their skills through community service and recruiting projects. Seidel’s gift will provide participating students with stipends, funding for books and supplies and travel to conferences. It will also support distinguished lectures from well-known leaders in engineering fields.

Engineering isn’t just about numbers, designs, and materials—it’s about leadership. One of the key attributes to becoming a leader in engineering practice, is to bring together teams from various disciplines, communicate, make decisions, be self-directed, and ethical. We are grateful that Ron Seidel knows the importance of leadership in engineering and is generously supporting this critical focus for our students.



We’re proud of our distinguished alum, Ms. Dion Messer (BSEE, ’84)

Dion Messer holds her distinguished alumna award at the 26 Annual Scholarship Breakfast.


Dion’s career path started out as a communications engineer with a NASA contractor at White Sands Missile Range.  With a Master’s degree from UT Austin, Dion became recognized worldwide as a digital signal processing expert who co-invented nine U.S. patents and authored numerous peer-reviewed IEEE publications. 

What makes Dion unique is that she moved on to get a law degree at UT School of Law and has led a successful career defending a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, winning 9-0, while creating a patent portfolio of more than 150 patents in less than five years.  With her service on the NMSU Foundation Board of Directors, and her philanthropic support to NMSU, Dion serves as an outstanding role model  for our students.


Remembering Dr. John W. Hernandez

File Photo: Dr. John W. Hernandez, former professor, department chair and dean of engineering at NMSU. 


Recently, the college held a celebration of life for John w. Hernandez. Hearing about his life deeply inspired me.  He was a professor, department chair and dean of engineering at NMSU, as well as an athlete, politician, EPA appointee under Ronald Regan.  He was also the embodiment of what we call student-centric: taking student calls at all hours for homework assistance, recruiting at high schools, editing student papers, etc.  There has been some amazing talent at this college: Hernandez, Dad Jett, Ralph Goddard, Frank Bromilow.  Their attributes are something that we should strive for today.



Leisure time is important to our mission


File Photo: Clock of Dreams sculpture adjacent to the Ed and Harold Foreman Engineering Complex on the NMSU campus (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Do you find leisure to do some real thinking?

Rabindranath Tagore, the great poet and Nobel Laureate of India, puts poetically the requirement of leisure for perception of truth:

“It [truth] has its atmosphere of infinity in a width of leisure across which come invisible messengers of life and light, bringing their silent voices of creation.” (Tagore, Selected Essays, Page 321). 

I have not seen anything more powerful than this to describe the need for leisure if we are to engage in creative and scholarly activities.  In a rush to produce, and get it over with’ we often miss golden opportunities to interact with the voices of creativity within and external.  

We have a lot going on in CoE at NMSU, but let’s find some leisure now and then, interact with each other, and have fun along the way.




Learning: The common denominator in everything we do on campus 

File Photo: Jessica Houston, associate professor of Chemical and Materials Engineering, teaches at the Technology Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) classroom. (NMSU photo by Andres Leighton)


Seeking higher levels of learning in a community setting is an opportunity that is exclusive to land-grant institutions.  It is indeed the collective purpose of teaching, research, outreach and service, often presented as mutually exclusive activities. Both freshmen and advanced research faculty share the common ground of seeking higher levels of learning; it is perhaps no accident that we use comparative degrees to refer to our enterprise as higher education, and we don’t use its superlative – highest education.  This paradigm shift, from teaching versus research versus community engagement to the common denominator of collective learning, is needed to give all of these activities their rightful and non-conflicting place on campus.




NMSU to offer Master of Engineering degrees


File Photo: The colorful hoods of the academic regalia signify where the wearers received their masters or doctorate degrees.

I am excited to know our proposal for Master of Engineering degrees has been finally approved by the Higher Education Department of New Mexico.  We can now move quickly to develop the various educational programs including those online, and move our graduate enrollments to the next level. The timing couldn’t be better: we have completed initial round of discussions on the development of interdepartmental programs, ex. manufacturing, bioprocesses and bioengineering, aerospace engineering, etc.  Very soon, we will develop marketing and communication plans for our MEng degree programs and identify the interdepartmental program directors.

These are exciting times indeed, at NMSU Engineering. 


Engineering Dean’s Blog

Greetings Friends and Colleagues,

I’m very excited about the opportunities and positive things in the College of Engineering and would like to share with you news, plans and thoughts through this blog. I invite you to follow my postings. If there is anything which you think might be a good topic, please send me a note at engrdean@nmsu.edu.